Thursday, August 1, 2013

MISSION SEVEN: Identification

The greatest mind blow one can receive on the other side of treatment is that life is much more than you thought it was; or rather, it could be much bigger than you previously believed. The second "Holy Moses" moment is the epiphany that you are not at all who you thought you were. The presentation you had previously displayed, the identity you once thought was your own, which you had so carefully crafted to protect your inner frailties, was in fact nothing but a performance. One Hell of a grand performance. Thus, when the actual You-- the one who had been painstakingly encapsulated and left to lie dormant-- starts to unfurl and reveal herself to you... There are no words. I could perhaps present the sensation to you in song, The Red Hot Chili Peppers rendition of Rollercoaster of Love-- "You give me that funny feeling in my tummy"-- but I will have to do my best with the following, feeble-minded text.

If there were one word I could use to describe my pre-treatment persona, it would be “Resilient.” If I had three words, “Resilient as f*ck!” The subconscious nerve that was somehow aware of the imbalance in my system directed my brain to compensate for its weaknesses almost from birth. I knew something was “off”; I self-protected with steadfast personal conditioning. Thus, the public Meredith was a rock-steady, reliable, strong-but-silent type. I was a stubborn bull in a polo shirt. A stubborn bull-dozer, more like. I would just put this Bitch into high gear and go. Running a tight ship on a quickly sinking vessel, I suppose I thought I could make it through the Bermuda Triangle-- before submerging into its perplexing vortex-- if I just sped like Hell. Well, we all know how the "full steam ahead" plan worked out for the Titanic. 

For a time, I was indefatigable. School, homework, good grades: check. Family matters, mediation, dutiful daughter: check. Patience, loyalty, just stay calm: check. Hobby after hobby after hobby: check. I held together the little, screaming Munch man inside me by promoting an outwardly placid demeanor. It was a "fake it til' ya make it" scenario. In the end, it wasn’t the valiant racing around, my hyperactive attempts to craft a rich outer life, or my skillful indulgence in or distraction from my chaotically toxic inner life, that caused my eventual collapse and total exhaustion. It was [holding-myself-together] that did it. Big, tight , uncomfortable squeeeeeeeze. Lying to myself that I was OK, that it would "all be all right," that if I just held on a little longer, I could make it-- these were the things that broke me down, for they were fruitless attempts to counteract my very nature. 

The identity that I had chosen was a heavy one to bear. I became who I thought I needed to be to survive. The result was a highly imaginative girl with obscene ambition and very poor interpersonal skills. To protect my inner fortress of “stay calm, stay calm,” I kept everyone at arm’s distance. I socialized, I had friends, I could even be hilarious; but so often I heard the sentence-- “You’re so mysterious...” Really? I’m pretty sure I’m just quiet, but whatever you say. In any case, I had managed to NOT develop a personality. I was too busy trying to keep mine under wraps. I had become an utterly blank canvas. Not even a drop of paint. I had subdued my inner tension until I had diffused myself out of existence. (That’s how much I hated myself back in the day). It was far more violent than suicide. It was self murder.